Classical Music World Falls Into Chaos Over Beethoven Manuscript

Byvu lita

Apr 4, 2024

A bad-tempered row has erupted in the world of classical music over the authenticity of a Beethoven manuscript.

Massive row over Beethoven manuscript (Sotheby's)

The score is up for auction at Sotheby’s today where it is expected to fetch up to £200,000.

Allegretto In B Minor For String Quartet was composed and written by Beethoven on November 29 1817 in Vienna.

However, a Manchester University academic has claimed the document was not penned by the composer – a claim strongly disputed by the auction house’s experts.

Professor Barry Cooper told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ‘There are several aspects which prove absolutely that it couldn’t possibly be Beethoven’s hand. For example, the natural signs are completely different from any natural signs in any genuine Beethoven script.’

Ludwig van Beethoven (Picture: Getty)
Ludwig van Beethoven (Picture: Getty)

Simon Maguire, director of books and manuscripts at Sotheby’s, said two world-class specialists had examined the document to assess and verify it.

He claimed Beethoven experts ‘think it is more a matter of Professor Cooper misreading the manuscript than anybody else, let alone Beethoven’.

‘I don’t agree with his analysis of what the manuscript says,’ he said.

In the increasingly fractious exchange, Mr Maguire claimed the professor had ‘resolutely refused’ to visit the auction house to look at the manuscript.

As the pair raised their voices and talked over each other, Professor Cooper said there was no need to make the journey to London because he was able to see ‘perfectly clearly’ that it was not penned by the composer – branding the situation ‘absurd’.

The two men continued to clash until Today presenter Justin Webb brought the interview to an end, telling the pair: ‘It’s a tough world, the world of Beethoven.’

Looks like the opinions of these experts will remain forever out of tune.

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